Will Muschamp

Cedric Reed is one of several Texas seniors who have endured eventful careers at Texas. The defensive end will look to go out on a high note with a win against TCU on Senior Night.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

He may not have known it at the time, but senior defensive end Cedric Reed, before even enrolling at Texas, had already had a taste of the turmoil that would define the Longhorn football program throughout his time in Austin.

It was a chilly December Sunday in 2010, and Reed was making an official visit to Texas to meet with the coaching staff and discuss his future after reports surfaced saying he might flip his commitment to play for the Aggies.

Reed sat in the Centennial Room of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, listening to then-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp talk about the future of a program that had just finished a season with a losing record for the first time in 12 years.

“We were just eating dinner, and Coach Muschamp was talking to us and all of a sudden he left,” Reed said. “Low and behold, across the TV screen, we saw that Muschamp just took the job at Florida.”

Sure enough, that was the last Reed would see of Muschamp at Texas, as he left for Gainesville shortly thereafter and has been the Gators head coach ever since.

“I thought it was a joke or something,” Reed said. “Everybody was just sitting there staring at each other. A couple people were crying — some of his friends and the coaches’ wives.”

That puzzling scene was a sign of what was to come for Reed’s and the rest of Texas’ seniors’ tenure on the 40 Acres.

For the fifth-year guys, it’s been an especially bumpy ride. Over the past half-decade, the Longhorns have had four defensive coordinators, two head coaches and two athletic directors.

Head coach Charlie Strong’s arrival meant the departure of virtually everyone who had recruited the Longhorn veterans and the removal of several guys who had become close friends with many of Texas’ seniors.

But, as rough as things have been off the field, one could argue it’s been even rockier on it.

For the first time since 2000, not a single member of Texas’ senior class will have been a part of a 10-win season.

To put things in perspective, Texas’ fifth-year seniors, who were a part of the 5-7 team in 2010, have already lost more games — 26 — then the Longhorn program lost in the 11 years prior to their arrival.

“We didn’t win as many football games as I wanted to, but I think we are turning this thing around, and I’m glad to be the foundation,” senior defensive back Quandre Diggs said. “That will always be our history because I really think Coach Strong is going to get this thing turned around.”

Regardless of wins and losses, that foundation will be the senior class’ legacy.

“[The seniors] have really taken the younger guys under the wing and demonstrated a work ethic,” junior offensive lineman Taylor Doyle said. “How to play hard and doing everything right off the field.”

They were known as great defensive coordinators at Texas, but now Will Muschamp and Gene Chizik have both been accused of being involved in a wide-ranging scandal at Auburn.

Chizik, who served as the Longhorns’ defensive coordinator when they won their last national championship in 2005, oversaw an Auburn football program that reportedly bribed players to keep them from declaring for the NFL Draft and changed players’ grades to ensure their eligibility.

Muschamp, a defensive coordinator at Auburn and Texas before taking over as Florida’s head coach two years ago, denied a report by former Sports Illustrated and New York Times reporter Selena Roberts that he was one of many to provide payments to Auburn players.

This latest wake of scandal comes 27 years after the NCAA handed SMU the death penalty for paying players, the beginning of a series of sanctions handed down on programs that offered impermissible benefits a generation ago.  

When former Longhorns offensive lineman and 1989 team MVP Ed Cunningham was a sophomore in high school, a school sent him a pair of custom cowboy boots. He sent them back and eventually signed with the Longhorns. 

“Texas has always been super clean. A lot of it is because they don’t have to do it,” Cunningham said. “SMU couldn’t compete. They had to pay players. Eric Dickerson got caught in the paying process between A&M and SMU and ended up driving to SMU in A&M’s car.”

Seven of the nine teams in the Southwestern Conference were disciplined by the NCAA in the late 1980s, including Texas, which was placed on probation in 1987 for providing benefits to current and prospective football players. Only Rice and Arkansas scraped by cleanly. TCU, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Houston and Baylor, along with SMU, were all sanctioned by the NCAA.

“There was an O-lineman that played at a school in the conference. He had been a Longhorns fan his whole life and wanted to come to Texas,” Cunningham recalled. “But when he went on his recruiting trip to Texas and Texas didn’t offer him anything, he assumed Texas didn’t want him because every other school had offered him something.”

Paying recruits and offering them impermissible benefits became the norm in college football, particularly in the SWC.

Said Cunningham of another player in the conference: “He got drafted and said he’d taken a pay cut. He had cash, a new car every year in college. Then he got to the NFL and he had a car payment and had to pay taxes.”

Only recently has the proliferation of cheating in college athletics rivaled the amount of wrongdoing that took place in the 1980s. Heisman Trophy-winning running back Reggie Bush at USC, head coach Butch Davis at North Carolina and booster Nevin Shapiro at Miami have headlined prominent college football scandals in the last few years.

“I know in the 80s there were universities that had organized pay schemes. At UT, honestly, it just didn’t happen,” Cunningham said. “Texas is pretty strict. [Men’s athletics director] DeLoss Dodds isn’t going to risk his job on organized payments. Texas isn’t motivated to cheat.”

The Longhorns may not be, but the fervor at other schools to cheat seems to be rivaled only by that of the fervor schools had to break the rules in the 1980s.

Filling a critical need on a coaching staff that went through a major shakeup after a 5-7 season, Texas hired Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to do the same job with the Longhorns.

Diaz replaces Will Muschamp, who left Texas after three seasons to become the head coach at Florida. Diaz inherits a defense that struggled badly in Texas' first losing season since 1997.

"Texas is a place that when coaches around the country get talking, it's hard to get through a conversation without the Longhorns coming up," Diaz said. "It's a place that is always one of the first mentioned among the best jobs out there."

Diaz is the biggest hire so far on a Texas staff that was full of holes. Muschamp left, offensive coordinator Greg Davis resigned, offensive line coach Mac McWhorter and defensive tackles coach and special teams coordinator Mike Tolleson retired and wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy took a similar job at Colorado.

Muschamp was paid $900,000 annually in a contract that had designated him the Longhorns' next head coach if he was still at Texas when Mack Brown retired.

Brown, who led Texas to the 2005 national championship, had been noted for holding his staff together over the years with the notable exception of defensive coordinator. Diaz will be Texas' sixth defensive coordinator since 2003. Three of them, Gene Chizik, Greg Robinson and Muschamp, left for head coaching jobs.

Brown had said before the 2010 season he expected the defense to maybe be the best he'd ever had at Texas, but a roster depleted of several NFL draft picks faltered badly against the run in losses to UCLA, Iowa State, Kansas State and Texas A&M. The Longhorns went 2-5 at home.

"After an extensive search, including conversations with head coaches and offensive coordinators around the country, Manny's name continued to come up," Brown said. "He's a bright, young coach who brings a lot of energy to our program."

Earlier this week, Texas hired Bo Davis from Alabama as defensive tackles coach and Darrell Wyatt from Kansas as wide receivers coach.

Two years after earning the position of Texas’ head-coach-in-waiting, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp accepted the job as Florida’s top man on Saturday night.

Muschamp, who came to Austin in 2008, helped lead a Longhorn unit that topped the nation in rush defense last season. This year Texas allowed 138.58 rushing yards per game, good for No. 44 in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“This is a dream come true to be the head coach of the Florida Gators," Muschamp said in a statement. "I grew up watching the Gators and whatever other SEC team was on television.”

Mushcamp is heading back to the Southeastern Conference after serving as Auburn’s defensive coordinator from 2006-07 and performing in the same capacity at LSU from 2002 to 2004.

“We wanted a candidate who was a relentless recruiter and was familiar with recruiting in the state of Florida. We wanted a candidate who was high energy and had been on the big stage. We wanted a candidate who was respected by his players and his peers and we wanted someone who had a passion for the University of Florida,” said Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley. “Coach Muschamp is all of those things and more.”

Mushcamp, who earned the highest salary of any coordinator in college football this season, is inheriting a Gator program that finished 7-5 in 2010 and will be facing Penn State in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1. Previous Florida head coach Urban Meyer retired on Wednesday.
 

Curtis Brown had every right to be angry.

After his second muffed punt inside the 20-yard-line on Saturday, he threw down his helmet, kicked it to the sideline and screamed profanities. He felt like the Longhorns’ loss to Baylor was all his fault. Obviously it wasn’t as if a loss can’t be placed on one man’s shoulders, but it’s easy to understand why he let his frustrations get the best of him considering the kind of week he had.

Last Tuesday before the Baylor game, Brown received a phone call every parent dreads — his 1-year-old daughter, Alayah, was in the hospital in Houston with a deadly respiratory illness.

Brown had to get to Houston immediately.

But before he could leave Austin, Brown’s name randomly popped up on a mandatory NCAA drug test that was scheduled for that Wednesday morning. He was told missing the test would cost him the standard penalty — a one-year suspension, which would have meant the end of his college football career because he is a senior.

“Bless his heart,” said head coach Mack Brown. “He got up at 5 Wednesday morning, took the test at 6 and got in the car and left.”

Curtis Brown arrived back in Austin on Friday in time to meet the team at the hotel it stays at before home games.

“Like anybody else would be, he was pretty distraught over the situation,” said defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who consoled his cornerback throughout the week. “It’s tough. We wear a lot of hats other than just being a football coach here at Texas. You’re an adviser, you’re a consultant, you’re a friend. You wear a lot of hats in order to help these young men work through adversity.”

In order to prevent conflicts like Curtis’ in the future, Mack Brown explained that the NCAA needs some flexibility in its drug-testing penalties.

“We need to look at ways that we can get an emergency appeal in that situation because that’s not right,” he said. “It’s not fair to put a young man in an awful position and he didn’t know what to do.”

Sometimes other things in life take priority over football, and in a time when the Longhorns are getting ripped by fans and the media for their inconsistency and 4-4 record, it’s easy to forget that.

All of the Texas players and coaches were aware of Curtis Brown’s situation and supported him during the week.

“We prayed for him and encouraged him,” said senior defensive end Sam Acho. “That goes back to something bigger than football. That goes back to life and we can all learn lessons from that.”

After Curtis Brown lost his composure in the fourth quarter because of his second dropped punt, Acho was there to give his teammate a lift.

“I told him, and he knows this, but I told him that football is a team sport,” Acho said. “It’s not like golf or tennis where it’s just one-on-one. It’s a team sport and we’re all in this together. And that’s been the message and will continue to be the message regardless of the outcome.”

With the way Texas’ season has unfolded, the players and coaches have learned how to pick each other up and forge forward. Though Brown’s situation is much more intense than losing a football game, missing a tackle or botching a punt, this group has learned how to face and handle adversity.

“It’s not just about what happens on Saturday afternoon,” Muschamp said.

Texas’ once almighty defense is crumbling. And it’s because they don’t know how to fix their recurring problems.

Against UCLA, Iowa State and Baylor, Texas’ defensive woes were the same — they missed assignments, were unable to stop third down conversions and could not force enough turnovers. After each of those losses, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said, “We’ll just go back to the drawing board.”

Whatever Muschamp’s scheme was this week, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III conquered it. The dual-threat quarterback completed 16 of 24 passes for two touchdowns as he led the best Baylor team head coach Mack Brown has seen in his time at Texas to a 30-22 win. It was Baylor’s first win in Austin since 1991.

“The guy is unbelievable. I don’t know how he can be out of the Heisman talk,” Brown said. “He was the difference. He made play after play after play after play. He makes everyone else around him better.”

At first, Griffin appeared hesitant. On Baylor’s first series, the quarterback was introduced to senior defensive end Sam Acho, who tackled him and caused a turnover.

But Griffin found his groove in the second quarter when he connected with receiver Terrence Williams on a third-and-10 over the middle of the field. Williams escaped Texas safety Blake Gideon, found the open field and ran for a 59-yard touchdown to give Baylor a 10-9 lead.

“We didn’t make plays that we’re used to making around here,” Gideon said. “It’s just a matter of one guy not getting their responsibility one play, and offenses are exploiting it.”

Despite Gideon’s missed tackle, the defense halted Baylor’s running game for about two-and-a-half quarters, holding them to 5 yards on 21 carries. But late in the third, Bears’ tailback Jay Finley broke the seal for a 69-yard touchdown run. Finley, who had 250 rushing yards against Kansas State the previous week, ran over Texas in the third and fourth quarters for 116 yards.

Griffin continued to have success in the fourth quarter as he exposed Texas’ weakness at defending third downs. After the Longhorns held Baylor on the goal line for five plays, Griffin finally sneaked in for a 1-yard touchdown, putting the Bears up 23-19.

Baylor essentially sealed Texas’ fate on their next possession. Griffin started with a 28-yard keeper on a zone read, then found receiver Kendall Wright for 11 yards on third-and-10. Three plays later on third-and-nine, Griffin connected with Wright again, who weaved past safety Christian Scott for a 30-yard strike.

That made the score 30-19 Baylor.

“It’s hard to stop [Griffin]. He’s a dual-threat quarterback,” said junior linebacker Keenan Robinson. “You try to stop his feet, then he hurts you with the pass. You try to stop his pass, then he hurts you with the run. He’s a good, balanced quarterback.”

Texas’ defense ended up holding Baylor to 328 total yards, which was well below the Bears’ season average of 510.8 (the fifth best average in the nation). Acho and Robinson played solid defense, as they combined for 19 tackles and five for a loss of 30 yards. But those two can’t defend 11 players by themselves.

Now, just like every week, it’s back to the drawing board.

“We’ve just got to find a way,” Muschamp said after the game. “All we want to do is go back to work, watch the film and re-evaluate. I look forward to getting back to work.”

If someone missed the loss to Iowa State on Saturday, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp’s demeanor and mood after the game could have told the story.

In answering post-game questions, Muschamp first resorted to barely English football jargon; his way of trying to evaluate what happened.

“Poor zone reads [against Iowa State QB Austen Arnaud], conversions on the third down in the second half,” Muschamp said. “We had opportunities to get off the field and we didn’t. We only created one turnover for our team.”

But after that answer, Muschamp must have had plays from the nightmarish defeat already running through his mind. After shutting down Nebraska’s running game, second-best in the country, and looking like a genius last week, Muschamp’s defense let the worst offense in the Big 12 run train on its own home turf.

“We talked the whole week about how we didn’t want to be the team with the hangover, but you could definitely tell that was there today,” said safety Blake Gideon. “We’re just as stunned as everybody is right now.”

With the cardinal and gold flashing up and down the field, a casual fan might have thought Texas head coach Mack Brown had scheduled USC. But no, this was Iowa State, the team that had never beaten Texas and the same Iowa State that had been shut out twice this season, once by Oklahoma last week and once by Northern Iowa a month ago.

“I think our consistent play has got to improve, that’s the bottom line,” Muschamp said, with his answers slowly making their way to one-word grunts.

Texas’ defense entered the game as one of the best rush defenses in the country, and it played with that arrogance. Iowa State’s offense ranked 104th in the nation, but churned out 335 yards, including 199 on the ground.

“The defense didn’t stop the run, and this game was very similar to UCLA with the arrogance we played with after we beat Tech on defense,” Brown said. “Our defense didn’t go out there and line up and stop them.”

Maybe it was the rare 11 a.m. start time that gave Iowa State the advantage. Texas played with no interest and no motivation. The leading tackler was little-known linebacker Dustin Earnest, who finished with nine filling in for Emmanuel Acho. Even Acho’s brother and defensive end, Sam, who usually plays like he just drank a case of Red Bull, struggled to motivate his defense.

“We did not come out excited,” Acho said. “They got up early and we just were not ready to play.”

With the consistent offensive struggles all season, the 2010 Longhorns have lived or died by their defense. On Saturday, the defense was unable to win the game for Texas, and as a result, Brown is 4-3 and off to his worst start ever at Texas.

“I was scared to death all week,” Brown said. “I’m fighting my guts out. You can’t trust your team and can’t trust your coaches when they’re not getting things ready to go.”

The man in charge is truly angry at his franchise, and his players knew it after the game. After hearing the fire in Brown’s voice, the team was confused by how everything could go so wrong in a game they expected to dominate.

“Everybody is just ...” said cornerback Curtis Brown, trying to grasp the failures. “I don’t know. We’re just so much better than this.”

Though they were lights out against one of the nation’s top rushing attacks, the Longhorns’ defense took a beating in Lincoln as several starters were injured.

Junior linebacker Keenan Robinson and sophomore safety Kenny Vaccaro were forced to miss the entire second half because of head injuries. Senior cornerback Curtis Brown hurt his back on a punt return, but played despite his constant grimaces. Junior linebacker Emmanuel Acho was limping around late in the fourth quarter.

Rather than panic, head coach Mack Brown and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp dug into their depth chart and pulled out freshman linebacker Jordan Hicks and defensive back Adrian Phillips.

“Jordan was in the right spots and played very well. He’s a very mature young man,” Muschamp said. “We’ve had an awful lot of confidence in him all along. He practices well, plays well, and the same goes for Adrian.”

With a defense so stout and in sync, younger players find it hard to crack the lineup, but sometimes, one player’s misfortune is another’s opportunity.

“We always tell the guys, ‘You never know when your number is going to be called and you better be ready when it is,’” Muschamp said. “We have a certain standard we’re going to play to here, and at the end of the day, we’re not going to say, ‘Well, we had an injury.’”

Hicks tied cornerback Aaron Williams to lead the team with eight tackles. Phillips didn’t play as much as Hicks, but he did break up a potential game-changing pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter.

<strong>Sackless in Lincoln</strong>

A sound offensive line is the key to a productive offense. But lately, the Longhorns have had difficulties executing any sort of running game.

Against Nebraska, the line blocked the best they had all year and created creases and gaps for quarterback Garrett Gilbert and the running backs to sneak through and rack up 209 yards — a season best.

“They’re definitely growing,” offensive coordinator Greg Davis said of his linemen. “They were much more in tune with getting their feet moving.”

After allowing a combined five sacks against UCLA and Oklahoma Texas held Nebraska without a sack.

“Everything we’d been emphasizing decided to explode [in the Nebraska game],” said senior left guard Michael Huey. “Something just clicked.”

Huey earned the Boss Hog Award, which honors the Longhorns’ most productive offensive lineman, for his performance against Nebraska, in which he made about five pancake blocks.

“Actually, it felt like more than that. I think I counted eight,” he said. “But regardless, that’s a lot of pancakes.”

<strong>‘W’ stands for fun</strong>

At Texas, to have fun means to win and losing is never an option. But for the past three weeks, the Longhorns have been mired in losses because of poor performances against UCLA and Oklahoma.

Before the team was rejuvenated by its win over Nebraska, frustration and failure seemed to have gotten the best of the Texas players and coaches. They were in no mood to chat during the weekly press conferences, with words short and not so sweet.

But in the past two press conferences, the whole team was upbeat, and smiles stretched across their faces, because they were having fun again.

“It’s amazing how winning changes everything,” Brown said. “When you win, it picks everything in your life up.”

Brown has made the school’s football program synonymous with winning and hadn’t been used to the alternative in quite some time.

“I’m spoiled like everyone else is around here; I can’t stand to lose,” he said. “But [losing] was probably good for us.”

The Longhorns are tired of losing. They’re tired of being scrutinized for mistakes and they want to be the team and the program they’ve been for the past 12 years under head coach Mack Brown.

The last time the Longhorns lost three regular season games in a row was in 1997, the year before Brown came to Texas. The Longhorns have lost to UCLA and Oklahoma so far this year and could possibly fall to Nebraska this weekend, making that three consecutive losses.

“This is not fun. You want to win,” Brown said. “We’ve had enough character building.”

Texas heads into this weekend’s national game hydrated by a bye week. Both players and coaches said Monday that the fact that they could spend an entire week focusing solely on Texas rather than an opponent will give them an edge on Saturday.

“I’d say our mood is fresh,” said senior wide receiver James Kirkendoll. “I’d say we’re really motivated, too. We’re really getting back to the basics and relaxing and having fun.”

Just because the Longhorns didn’t have a game last weekend doesn’t mean they were sleeping in and eating cupcakes all week. Rather, the bye week was all about getting back to the level of play that has been missing all season.

Junior safety Blake Gideon compared last week’s practices to summer two-a-days, physical and intense workouts with tackling drills every day.

“You could see the intent and the aggression in all our coaches eyes,” Gideon said. “It was a good week and I definitely feel like we got better.”

Brown spent much of the week trying to get his coaches back on track. He instructed offensive coordinator Greg Davis and his defensive counterpart Will Muschamp to review every third down and red zone play the Longhorns have had this season.

After doing his homework, Davis acknowledged that he’s probably been a bit too conservative with sophomore quarterback Garrett Gilbert. He even said he’s going to call more downfield passing plays. Davis also noted that sophomore running back D.J. Monroe is at the point where he can be on the field more than he has been in the past two games.

Muschamp noticed that his rush defense, which was ranked No. 1 in the country in 2009, has been inconsistent. The group will get another opportunity to convince the nation that they can stop the run this weekend, as the Longhorns will have their hands full not only with Nebraska’s tailback duo of Roy Helu Jr. and Rex Burkhead, but with quarterback Taylor Martinez as well.

Martinez is a dual-threat quarterback who passed for 128 yards on seven plays and rushed for 241 yards on 15 carries against Kansas State last week. He’s averaging 10.3 yards per pass and 10.8 yards per rush on the season as a first-year starter.

Junior linebacker Emmanuel Acho said that if the defense does its job and minimizes mistakes and penalties, they will be able to contain Martinez.

“It’s another game, it’s another team, he’s another quarterback,” Acho said. “It’s not about what he does, it’s about what we do. He’s a good player. I’ll leave it at that. There’s nothing — if we play to Texas standards — nothing that we should be too worried about.”

Losing is not part of the Texas standard equation that the team talks about so much. But to climb back atop the Big 12 and BCS ladders, Texas will have to play smarter, more disciplined football.

“We’re not used to losing around here,” Kirkendoll said. “We’ve learned from these losses and understand we don’t want to feel this way again. Losing is not a good feeling and we’ve got to play to our standard. If we compete at that level we talk about, then I don’t think too many teams can play with us.”

The Longhorns are tired of losing. They’re tired of being scrutinized for mistakes and they want to be the team and the program they’ve been for the past 12 years under head coach Mack Brown.

The last time the Longhorns lost three regular season games in a row was in 1997, the year before Brown came to Texas. The Longhorns have lost to UCLA and Oklahoma so far this year and could possibly fall to Nebraska this weekend, making that three consecutive losses.

“This is not fun. You want to win,” Brown said. “We’ve had enough character building.”

Texas heads into this weekend’s national game hydrated by a bye week. Both players and coaches said Monday that the fact that they could spend an entire week focusing solely on Texas rather than an opponent will give them an edge on Saturday.

“I’d say our mood is fresh,” said senior wide receiver James Kirkendoll. “I’d say we’re really motivated, too. We’re really getting back to the basics and relaxing and having fun.”

Just because the Longhorns didn’t have a game last weekend doesn’t mean they were sleeping in and eating cupcakes all week. Rather, the bye week was all about getting back to the level of play that has been missing all season.

Junior safety Blake Gideon compared last week’s practices to summer two-a-days, physical and intense workouts with tackling drills every day.

“You could see the intent and the aggression in all our coaches eyes,” Gideon said. “It was a good week and I definitely feel like we got better.”

Brown spent much of the week trying to get his coaches back on track. He instructed offensive coordinator Greg Davis and his defensive counterpart Will Muschamp to review every third down and red zone play the Longhorns have had this season.

After doing his homework, Davis acknowledged that he’s probably been a bit too conservative with sophomore quarterback Garrett Gilbert. He even said he’s going to call more downfield passing plays. Davis also noted that sophomore running back D.J. Monroe is at the point where he can be on the field more than he has been in the past two games.

Muschamp noticed that his rush defense, which was ranked No. 1 in the country in 2009, has been inconsistent. The group will get another opportunity to convince the nation that they can stop the run this weekend, as the Longhorns will have their hands full not only with Nebraska’s tailback duo of Roy Helu Jr. and Rex Burkhead, but with quarterback Taylor Martinez as well.

Martinez is a dual-threat quarterback who passed for 128 yards on seven plays and rushed for 241 yards on 15 carries against Kansas State last week. He’s averaging 10.3 yards per pass and 10.8 yards per rush on the season as a first-year starter.

Junior linebacker Emmanuel Acho said that if the defense does its job and minimizes mistakes and penalties, they will be able to contain Martinez.

“It’s another game, it’s another team, he’s another quarterback,” Acho said. “It’s not about what he does, it’s about what we do. He’s a good player. I’ll leave it at that. There’s nothing — if we play to Texas standards — nothing that we should be too worried about.”

Losing is not part of the Texas standard equation that the team talks about so much. But to climb back atop the Big 12 and BCS ladders, Texas will have to play smarter, more disciplined football.

“We’re not used to losing around here,” Kirkendoll said. “We’ve learned from these losses and understand we don’t want to feel this way again. Losing is not a good feeling and we’ve got to play to our standard. If we compete at that level we talk about, then I don’t think too many teams can play with us.”